All freelancers will tell you that efficient time management is one of the most important skills you need to learn to be successful. If you fail to utilize your time appropriately, you will fall behind and struggle to fulfil your tasks.
So, to help you keep on top of your deadlines and to ensure you can utilize your most precious resource more efficiently, below are eight tips that will help you conquer the art of time management as a freelancer.
Ascertain Your Capacity to freelance
Every freelancer needs to know what their capacity is before taking on new projects. Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or earning from the gig economy on the side, you need to be clear about how much work you can take on. It doesn’t matter if you work ten hours a day, week, or month; providing that you ascertain your capacity and plan from there, you will be able to deliver your projects in line with your clients’ expectations.
Track Your Working Hours
When you know how many hours per day, week, or month you’re planning to work as a freelancer, you need to develop a system for tracking the hours that you work. You can do this in any way that you like, whether it’s a simple Google Sheet or a free time tracking software tool for freelancers such as Time Camp. However you go about it, tracking your time is important so that you can plan your deliverables and ensure you don’t let your clients down.
Set Office Hours
One of the best things about working as a freelancer is that you can set your own hours. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can work every hour under the sun! Doing so is a sure-fire way of burning yourself out. You can tailor your working pattern to meet your lifestyle needs, but just make sure you allocate sufficient time to relax and unwind. Freelancing can quickly become burdensome if you don’t plan your office hours in advance.
Prioritize High-Value Projects
As you grow your client base as a freelancer, you will come to realize that some projects are of higher value than others. What we mean by this is that some clients will be happy to pay more for your time and effort than others. So, with this in mind, try and optimize your work schedule so that you can prioritize high-value projects. This means that you can earn more money by doing less work, which is a situation we would all love to be in!
Set Clear Timeframes from the Outset
A common time management mistake that freelancers often make is failing to develop realistic timeframes for their deliverables from the outset. For instance, let’s say you’re a writer and you take on a 500-word article for a new client. They might expect you to deliver it within 1-2 days, but what they don’t realize is that they’re at the back of the queue, and you actually have 25,000 words to get to before you start on their piece! If you’re not clear about your timeframes from the start, you will end up disappointing your clients, so make sure your delivery times are relevant to your capacity.
Consider Non-Billable Tasks
As a freelancer, there’s a lot more to your schedule than the hours that you can bill your clients for. Typically, in addition to completing your projects, you will be responsible for:
- Website development and social media promotion
- Financials and accounting
- General administration
- Client calls and meetings
When you’re working out what to charge your clients, you need to take these various non-billable tasks into consideration. If you fail to account for them, you will end up working for large periods of time without getting paid for your labour.
Learn to Say No
Understanding the value of saying no is one of the most important aspects of successful time management as a freelancer. It’s simply impossible to take on every project that you get offered. And remember, you are 100% in control of how you spend your time. If a particular project doesn’t pique your interest, or if you have a better offer from elsewhere, make sure you feel under no obligation to agree to a piece of work just for the sake of it. Saying no is liberating and will ensure that you don’t take on more work than you can manage.
Use Tools to Help You
Our final tip is to utilize various time management tools to help you improve your time management. Different tools work for different freelancers, but you might find some of the following helpful:
- Tracking your time – Time Camp
- Managing your projects – Monday.com
- Scheduling your invoices – Zoho
- Social media management and scheduling – Hootsuite
While you don’t need to use all of the above tools, you might find that familiarizing yourself with some of them will help you manage your time more efficiently as a freelancer.
Time management is one of the biggest determinants of freelancing success. If you fail to manage your time correctly, you will undoubtedly fall behind with your deadlines and will end up disappointing your clients. Hopefully, the above eight tips will help you improve the way you manage your schedule and will enable you to conquer the art of time management as a freelancer.